Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marvelous Things

Thus one Need-love, the greatest of all, either coincides with or at least makes a main ingredient in man's highest, healthiest, and most realistic spiritual condition.  A very strange corollary follows.  Man approaches God most nearly when he is least like God.  For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility, righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?
-C.S. Lewis
    This week we have been watching To Kill A Mockingbird in class.  As predicted, this has been a rather interesting experience.  I have learned a few things through showing this film to my 9th graders which if you would like to know you may find out from me personally as I don't feel like posting them here.  Suffice to say that to today's 9th graders depictions of racism in 1930s rural Alabama are nothing.  The brilliant thing about showing this movie to my Civics class, though I can assure you the brilliance is completely accidental, is that the defense loses. Great!  I'm not racist.  I hate no one and I dislike proportionately.  I'm not saying this is great because bias and hatred win out in the end.  I'm saying its great because it illustrates the need of a court system and not just individual separate courts. My students actually understood the need for appellate courts after watching the movie.  Talk about a great illustration.

  What I absolutely love about this movie, and something that I have  become increasingly obsessed with lately, is the idea of a fight worth fighting even when the logical end says you're going to lose. I love that Atticus knows from the  beginning that he is going to lose the trial.  Granted, he knows they have a better shot in appeal (as he tells Tom Robinson), but that doesn't make him give up the fight in  the beginning.  He argues his heart out knowing that the end is not in his favor. This is so very similar to our lives living for Christ.  In the end, victory is guaranteed.  After all, we have victory in Christ.  But our part in that victory is another story.  Will it be our role to die (figuratively or not) for the later victory or will we fight to the end?  Is it our job to gain glory or walk away humbled?  It is not the end that makes us, it is the middle, the life.  I doubt they did, but I hope my students caught this.

    It has been interesting to note that maturity is not limited to an individual basis.  Maturity also exists on a group basis.  The mature pubescent individual, when placed in a group of immature pubescent individuals, will  become immature.  This happening, the group will protest being treated like small children, stating, despite their actions to the contrary, that they are mature "adults".  I am trying to teach them that as we act, so are we treated.  I tried this in reverse, at first, treating them as adults and expecting them to rise to the challenge.  To some extent some of them did this, but to another extent 9th grade is just a fancy name for 3rd.  Point is, there still needs to be order.  They still need guidelines and to be held to them with consequences for breaking them.  This is consistent with God's own setup in the Garden when he told Adam and Eve to eat from any tree but one.  He gave freedom to grow, while still keeping order in their lives.  It is an interesting thing to note that freedom and structure are both necessary for the spiritual and mental growth of the learner.

    Speaking of spiritual growth, I've been reading C.S. Lewis again. I know, shocking.  I can usually be found with a copy of something by Lewis or Tolkien tucked under my arm or nose.  I love a soft lamp, extremely noisy music, and a book. Add to that our good ol cat Aberforth attacking Hazel across the room and the night is perfect.  I have been realizing A Lot lately, my need for God.  Lewis talks about it in the Four Loves the fact that none of us can say to God, "I don't need you.  I just love you disinterestedly."  and yet that is our goal to harness this need we have of God and to build upon it a love that comes from our admiration of God Himself.  It is not enough to love God because of our need of Him only.  We must love God because of Him.  Granted, lately I am very much in the Need-love phase. Student Teaching will do that to a person. Every day I am made more aware of my need for Him, and yet everyday this need for God makes me aware of how much I love Him beyond that.

    Back to education, I also read in The Four Loves last night, from the chapter Likings and Loves for the Sub-human, "Nature will not verify any theological or metaphysical proposition...To discover God we must make a detour- leave the hills and woods to go back to our studies, to church, to our Bibles, to our knees... our real journey to God involves constantly turning our backs on [nature]."  This is, obviously, about nature, which is completely relevant to me.  I mean, whenever I go to the place where the picture in the background of this blog was taken I say, "God is real.  This proves it."  To my mind though, speaking specifically from where I am in student teaching, it says something else.  You see, I have been trying to teach "Truth" with "truth," which I think is not a bad thing necessarily, but it can only, as Lewis puts it, provide the "content" to put into words the faith that we have.  Lewis goes on to say that without nature and his appreciation/experience of it he would have had no concept of fear of God etc.  This, truth is necessary for my students' understanding of Truth, but it is not, ultimately, enough.